26 January 2015
An 11-year-old boy who was born with a severely underdeveloped left ear has had a new one created using his own rib by surgeons at the Royal Free Hospital.
George Hoyle from Illogan in Cornwall was born with the rare congenital condition microtia, which meant the external part of his ear failed to develop properly.
For years George was subjected to bullying over his ear, which took a significant toll on his confidence.
He said: “People had been teasing me for a couple of years. They called me names. It made me not want to go to school.”
As soon as he was old enough George told his parents he wanted to undergo surgery to reconstruct the ear, which brought him to the Royal Free Hospital and consultant plastic surgeon Walid Sabbagh.
In November 2013 Mr Sabbagh harvested cartilage from George’s own rib and carved it into the shape of an ear. He then inserted the cartilage under the skin on the side of George’s head to create the appearance of a new ear.
In December 2014 George returned to the hospital for the second operation, which involved lifting the top of the new ear away from the head and completing the transformation.
Ear reconstruction surgery is one of the most complex operations in plastic surgery, and Mr Sabbagh is one of just four surgeons in the country qualified to carry out the procedure.
He said: “If you don’t treat this there is a lot of evidence that this condition will have a significantly negative impact on the child.
“By George’s age the child becomes quite aware that they have a different ear and they start commenting and asking ‘why am I different’.”
“It will affect how they interact with others and how they develop. It will affect many aspects of their life.”
Speaking about his new year George said: “It looks good now. I always used to have my glasses adjusted but now they will fit properly. I’m going to secondary school next year so I am glad I got it done before then.”
George’s mum Mandy added: “The quality of the work was amazing. You could barely even see the stitches and you can hardly see a scar.”
“It’s given him a big boost. It’s great because we always noticed people staring at him. That’s what we didn’t want for him. We were worried he would be an easy target for everyone.”